…and then there were six

What started out as a ramble for just the Father in Law and myself grew into

The Big Family Outing

Six of us sailed the 10NM to Ryhll for a yum Fish and Chip lunch.

Zoe and Daisy can never sit still. I am resigned to taking off thier jackets as they dive below and putting them back on again 5 minitues later. Then clipping them on as they go forward, then unclipping them as they steer for a while. If there was a way to wire them up and extract electricity from thier perpetual motion…

The boat swallows up six people easily. Ray or myself or the kids kick back and steer. Beth hangs on the net and Jan in the cabin. We had about 12knots on a broad reach there and the same home. A lovely day.

Maybe one of the last sails ever for me on Surfarosa. We are trying to launch our Schionning cat in January and I have finally wrapped my head around the idea that maybe I should pass Surfarosa on… I’m very keen for it to go to the right person. I dont want it to sit sadly in someones driveway. Or simply raced around the cans. It is an amazing boat. A beautiful, strong boat. It deserves to be loved and taken on adventures.

Phillip Island

A small adventure, sailing right around Phillip Island.

Getting the boat sorted the day before takes the pressure off and leaves time for messing about with boaty bits.

We gathered a keen, if not quite crack, crew of four crusty blokes, enough food for two days, and a bottle of celebratory wine. (OK, a couple of beers, too).

Squeezing past Tortoise Head on French Island in the late morning after a lazy start, we are finally into it, away… so, time to park next the beach at Rhyll, on the Nth side of Phillip Island, and wander off in the rain for a cup of coffee and a toasted sandwich at the General Store.

A quick sail along the Nth side, past Churchill Is and Newhaven, found us before the Phillip Island bridge. Crikey, the tide was nearly high but still running enough to pile up water against the bridge pylons. We pushed through and plonked ourselves at the pier in San Remo.

Walking through town then out toward the coast led us to a spot where we could see the channel to Bass Strait. It was fairly wild. Waves breaking onto sandbars, the sea cold and grey. It is about 4 km out to Bass Strait from San Remo. There is some protected water under Cape Woolemi. We stayed there. I dumped the guys onto the sand, through a small swell, so they could walk over to Woolemi Beach. We motor past a huge sandhill where the local kids were sand skiing. Awesome!

Day two. Breakfast onboard then a gentle sail past Cape Woolemi on our way out to Bass Strait.

The weather forcast was promising a gentle offshore breeze. What we got was a 20 knot headwind over a six foot swell. Lumpy and wild for light 24 foot trimaran. Once I got the idea that the boat was really enjoying these conditions, I started to enjoy myself too. It took three long tacks and three hours to get us past Seal Rocks and back into Westernport Bay.

A fast sail through Cat Bay, reaching 16 knots, then a last skim along Phillip Island, before crossing our tracks and lunch in the lee of Sandy Point.

A quiet sail up past Stony point and around an old Oberon class submarine, then home…

57 Nautical Miles. Average speed 5.5 knots. Two days.

Circumcising French Island.

A day on the water with my partners Dad. It’s blowing 25 knots. Solid.

“Shall we reef?”. “Nar. Reefing is for Pansies”.

Did he say, ‘Pansies’?

Not sure… but whatever he said, we didn’t reef.

All the sails up.

So, there we were, Ray at the tiller in a homemade 24 foot Trimaran beating from Hastings to Tortoise Head in 25 knots against a strong tide.

Wet. Crazy. Fun.

Think ‘Capt Dan up the rigging’ in that scene in Forest Gump.

“Is that the best you you can do, God?!”

We round Tortoise Head and crack off toward Rhyll.

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Fast fun. There are times when the boat is almost out of control, but not quite. We push it and push it. Ray locks his jaw on the tiller. I keep the mainsheet in my hand…

Rhyll. We leave Surfarosa at the dock and go in search of an early lunch/coffee.

The Rhyll Cafe is crowded with tourists and locals, we spare them our wet, salty, smelly, wild haired selves and walk to the General Store. Ah, ya gotta love a General Store that smells like the 1950s but serves passable coffee.

A thought drifts between us… “Er, we could go right around french Island, ya know”, “What? Tides? Wind?”. “Yep. Strangely, all good. Never occured to me until now…”

Ray gets a tad steely (which quite frankly scared me a little…)

“OK. Lets go”

We sail off the pier with a crunch and find ourselves surfing downwind, wing on wing, at 10 knots. Charts and compass on our laps. The Eastern side of French Island is beautiful. Gumtrees grow to the waters edge. Off the Grid farms. Sandbars and deep water.

We anchor at the NE corner for a brew.

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Lines are imagined on the chart and we are off across the Northern Shore of French Island in 25knots of offshore wind over very flat water.

The boat sits on 15 knots for about an hour.

Amazing sailing. It is way windy. We have too much sail up.

A scary kind of Joy. The best kind.

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French Is

Met this other Dad at the pool. Our kids love each other and so we mostly get to Gas Bag as they play. It was a few weeks of swims before we realized we had a bizzare amount of things in common. We both sail (admittedly he was a world champion and sailed Americas Cup yachts… but still…), we both work with boats now, we both were in bands, we are both older Dads. Cool!

We hit the bay on a fine 15 knot day for a sail over to French Island. Kids dissapeared below. They do laps of the cabins. French Is is off the grid and has no by laws. It has that 1950s feel. We scout out the beach, talk, play with kids, talk… it’s a sunny day. Perfect.

The Local

Out on the Bay with gorgeous friends. We sailed past the submarine then past the tall ship Enterprize and on to Sandy Point. A cartoon perfect blue day with gentle breezes.

Sandy Pt put on a show for us. The tide got low and the sand spit went out forever into the wild blue sea. The kids found warm pools to lay in.

Such nice people to spend the day with. These guys are serious foodies. We ate like they do on those tasty TV shows. Yum! It was a big day. A happy day.

Thanks be the Taylor Family.

From King Lake to Sandy Pt.

Lovely Friends join us for a warm summery sail down to Sandy Point.
These guys really know how to sail, which meant I could laze around on deck.
It is New Years Eve and the birthday of our honary Skipper.
There was little wind and the kids were having fun. Bliss.

I didnt anchor out far enough and we got caught by the tide at Sandy Pt. Spent an extra few hours there on the beach. Whoops. No drama, it was one of those days when no one had to be anywhere other than where they were. The kids were in kid heaven. Other than a leaky toilet *peee-u*, nearly running aground and hitting another boat when trying to sail onto the dock in no wind… we did well. Really.

Lets go for a sail.

Dear Friends stay over for the weekend.

It’s hot, we are full of Leb and Greek tucka from Res.

We hit the beach.


The water is begining to become almost Balmy.


Somers Cafe.

I decide to take the Eight of us for a sail.

Not my Best Ever decision…

Blowing 15 to 20 knots, straight up the bay.

J, does a fine ‘Jackie O’ despite the conditions.

Lumpy. Chunderous.

Sea Sickness decends. Stef is Father of the Year.

Sorry guys. Next time, I promise it will be Sparkling.

Next time.

The girls jump into a show on iVeiw and we recover.

Ok, Daisy still looks a bit horrified.


So, i’m 50.


No aches or pains. Three Beautiful girls. Stuff.
Some dreams fulfilled. Happy.

Raises bat… just.

A low key ‘Drift into 50’ birthday. I keep the boat at the dock for a few days. Friends camp in the backyard for a few days.

Drifting into 50 is my way of testing the water…

“Easy. Easy, Ahhh. That’s nice. Now its time to get out. Bugger, i’m stuck. Help.”

Zoe, aged 4, and I slept on the boat for a few nights.

Zoe was strangely casual about that. She has never slept on the boat on the water. In the driveway…, but not on the water.

Actually this was the first time she had ever been away from her Mum.

The first night was quite wild. 25 knots of wind.

The rigging was humming and whistling. The sun went down – as it does.

I rugged Zoe up well and truly Dadda Snug. Down below to play Snap and clean our teeth ready for bed.

Zoe has a über cosy bed up forward.

It is a crawl space that opens out into a tiny room. She dragged a herd of dinosaurs in there along with her torch, declared that “I dont want any books tonight, Dadda”, turned off the torch, and went to sleep.

I mean straight to sleep. Out like a light.

I couldn’t take it. It was a bit weird. Had she been bitten by a White Tail Spider???

So i woke her… yep, I know. Dumb Dadda.

She woke and told me, “I was asleep”, “You woke me!?”.
Then *phew* went back to sleep.

I went on deck and surveyed the Salty World. For some reason, that I don’t want to know about, the sea is it for me.

A Philosophical Birthday Beer then bed.

I love Zoe and Daisy so much, it hurts. How strange that two kooky little feisty creatures have come in to my life… although I am becoming aware that it is me that is dipping into their lives.
Hmmmm, Philosophical Beer.

We had breakfast at sunrise. Ouch. Philosophical Beer.

After snugging the boat back at the dock, we noodled home via a small forest where we played Dinosaur hide and seek. It never ends when you are Four.

Our good friends were staying in a tent in the backyard for the weekend of my birthday. I had declared that my 50th birthday would ramble over four days. Somehow, in the most beautifully sincere and sinister way, Beth agreed.

The actual day was spent at a kooky farm with Zoes’ kindergarten. The size of the signs warning that ‘Emus will Peck!’ were only matched by the size of the holes in the Emu fence. We had a coffee at The Merricks General Store. Site of our first prenancy test results celebrations… Good timing still, as Daisy slept in the car, outside the cafe window, as we slurped coffee and tea.

(Look Away – birthday swill below)

I scored some ace pressies. A new 4/3 Ripcurl Dawn Patrol wetsuit!! Boots, Tevas, a very bling Coffee Machine. Cases of wine.
I am blissed out by the loot… So shallow :)

On the last day of my ‘Drift into 50’, five of us went on a somewhat bent out of shape adventure to the remote and beautiful Sandy Point in Westernport Bay. Beth and Daisy stayed home as the gorgeous small Daisy Creature is too much of a live wire to enjoy being on a boat for a day.

It took years to sail there. The motor broke down so we were well and truly doing it 1890s style. Sails only.

I sailed close to a submarine to extract the maximum glee from the four year old Z.

She caught a Barracouta!

We had to tack into light winds all the way to the beach. Not getting there until 2pm. Rie steered nearly all the way. Which is no easy thing – steering a fickle trimaran into shifting flukey winds. She is a natural. They have inherited a boat that I am helping to trick up. Oh yes, they will be Loyal Converts to the Dark Ways of the Sea…

Sandy Point is remote. It has no road access.

The beach is pure and clean, no footprints.

Driftwood. Shells.

Soldier Crabs.

Dave stayed on the boat and landed five Flathead. He was in “Here, Fishy, Fishy” heaven. Being the fishing tragic that he is i could only be insanely and unreasonably happy for him!

The rest of us fossicked.

The trip home was all downwind. The Trimaran slid along ‘wing to wing’ and we took only an hour to get back. I cooked ‘boat flavoured’ Toad in a Hole for Jack and Z. We sailed right up to the dock.

It was fuzzy and warm to have good friends camping at our place and to have a very low key birthday. Daisy grinned all weekend. Bouncing from person to person. Squeezable. Impossibly cute with a bent sense of humour. Zoe put herself in another gear and laughed and raved her way through each day.

Thanks Beth. You are my partner in crime. My love.

I am feeling tired. I need a shave, a hair cut and a good sleep.

It’s late, i’m 50.